Cape Girardeau County's new website more interactive

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A new website for Cape Girardeau County, www.capecounty.us, was launched quietly Friday.

Eric McGowen, the county's information technology director, said he wanted it to be online before Election Day, when poll results will be posted on the county clerk's page.

The new site, which is more interactive than the previous version, links to pages for elected officials and specific departments, such as information technology, county parks and the archive center.

Other pages are devoted to specific areas of the county, with the road and bridge advisory board's pages offering links to paving plans and policies and a budget page with spreadsheets reflecting income and spending from the Proposition 1 sales tax. The county purchasing information page includes a survey for vendors and news that the purchase process will be updated.

Because the site is so new, a few pages, such as those for the auditor and emergency management, have little more than titles. The 2008 budget will added this week, McGowen said. He will also add pages for each advisory board and a page for people who want to apply to serve on county boards.

The site includes links to mapping software, where visitors can see landowners and property values. A purchasing page includes a vendor survey and news that the county's purchasing process will be updated.

An interactive calendar allows visitors to see meeting dates and times, with links to agendas. Those who use Outlook for e-mail will be able to automatically add events to their personal calendars, McGowen said.

McGowen is particularly excited about selling surplus county property online. Bidders' offers will be deposited in a password-protected file that will be opened when the online auction ends after 30 days.

"This will allow us to reclaim some of our initial cost for some property," he said. "It's a great way to drive traffic to our website."

He said he worked with Treasurer Roger Hudson to develop extensive rules. Items being sold must first be certified as useless to the county.

In March, the county commission hired Cape Girardeau-based website design and hosting company Element 74 to create the new look for $9,500, adding a $79 monthly fee for site maintenance and technical support.

McGowen said the county might spend more in the future to customize certain pages but that, for now, much of the work could be done by county workers.

"We purchased software which allows myself and other employees of the county to update those pages," he said. "It's as easy as creating a document in a word-processing program."

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

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